Welcome to our weekly column Can’t Miss Episode of the Week! Every Saturday we’ll be spotlighting a different episode of television from that week that we thought was exceptional and a must-see. Check back to see if your favorite show got the nod — or to learn about a new one!
For a masterclass in how to use humor to tell a story about important political issues, watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The NBC cop comedy premiered back-to back episodes for its 8th and final season on Thursday, August 12. Their focus was on how to grapple with the reckoning over police abuse of people of color that happened during the early days of COVID. The first episode of the two, “The Good Ones,” kicks off this arc strongly, while still being incredibly funny, and true to the tone of the show.
For anyone groaning about the sitcom getting too political, the truth is that Nine-Nine has always spent a lot of its time on how corrupt the system is. Captain Holt’s (Andre Braugher) been very candid about the prejudice he’s had to face on the force as a black gay man. In one episode Terry (Terry Crews) was stopped by a cop for “looking suspicious” while walking down the street of his own neighborhood. And who can forget the season 6 plotline where the precinct went to war with the commissioner (Phil Reeves) himself (who beat Holt out for the position by being a conservative old white man) for spying on citizens? The series is known for dealing with heavy issues while still feeling wholesome and fun, and this is no different. I would even say it was set up much better to do these kinds of stories than some of the other shows whose Black Lives Matter episodes felt a little forced (looking at you Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist).
The series knows how to do a cold open, and this one doesn’t hold back with Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) matter-of-factly declaring that she’s quitting the force, and Jake promptly accidentally destroying everything around him as he flails in surprise. The way she says it is totally in keeping with her character, and she’s still an active part of the show. The episode itself revolves around Jake (Andy Samberg) helping Rosa, now a private investigator, get justice for a woman who was abused and baselessly arrested by a couple of cops. But like when Holt got beat out for the commissioner position, or, on a smaller scale, when Amy (Melissa Fumero) tried to get a permit from the city’s flawed bureaucracy, Jake finds that he can’t beat the system. It turns out changing things from within can only go so far.
The comedic timing of these scenes is on point, and along with a new goofy villain played by John C. McGinley’s (Dr. Cox on Scrubs) President of the Patrolman’s Union Frank O’Sullivan, it all seems to work. And even though they’re on different paths now, Jake and Rosa still have each other’s backs. It’s a monumental task to try to do these storylines without getting too depressing or being too preachy, but if there’s any show that knows how to do it successfully, it’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Other observations we thought made this episode stand out:
- Amy’s return from maternity leave winds up being both hilarious and heartwarming when a minor interaction with Captain Holt leads her to believe that something is seriously wrong, and she is right. We love their bond.
- Rosa using Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) and Scully’s (Joel McKinnon Miller) disdain for regulations, and their knowledge of the Patrolman’s Union, so she can break in is genius.